Flower Arranging & Friends – A Fun Winter Night On Martha’s Vineyard

People always wonder what we do on Martha’s Vineyard during the long winter months.  I think they’d be surprised to see just how much there is to do.

This Winter, I’m getting in touch with flowers.  Sounds a little strange I know, but there’s something about fresh flowers that chases away some of the grey we see in New England.  How am I doing this?  Well, Ellen O’Brien, the owner of MV Florist has been offering Flower Arranging Classes at different locations this season.

I felt like it’s time to share this fun, creative event from MV Florist.  The second one I went to was at Isabelle’s Beach House (a great B&B) on Sea View Avenue, in Oak Bluffs.  For this class, we learned how to create a spring flower basket arrangement.  

For $25, you got a basket, flowers and instruction.  Since we were going to be someplace fun, it was suggested that you bring an appetizer to share and a bottle of wine.

All this on a Thursday night in February?  Of course I was in, as were a bunch of my friends.  A great reason to get together after work, do something creative, and spend some time together.  I really enjoy these types of things — a little fun, a little education

So, I stopped by Tony’s Market to get a great bottle of wine, and then to Offshore Ale to get a takeout order of their Grilled Brie (no time to make something good) and it was off to Isabelle’s.  Even on a dark, cold night, it’s nice to be at a house on the water.  It never loses that special feel.

When I walked through the door, I was immediately greeted by buckets upon buckets of beautiful, fragrant roses, Fair Trade roses — meaning the farms they come from in Ecuador offer good pay, healthcare, etc.

Already in good spirits because of all the flowers, it was so nice to see so many friends and familiar faces in the room. There were also a number of people I did not know, which adds to the fun of the evening.

After a glass of wine, a bite to eat, and some hellos, it was time for us to grab a spot to begin our floral adventure. There were 15 settings, one for each of us, with a basket and clippers.  Getting right into it, our instructor was the fabulous Sharon Capen.

Sharon is a great teacher. She is funny and a little firm too, which a group like us needs.  If you want to, you can actually learn a thing or two about flower arranging.  Thirsty for knowledge, I was ready.

Some Tips From A Pro

Step one for our Spring flower basket arrangement was cut some oasis (the green smooshy stuff) to fit your basket, which for us was, pre-soaked and full of water.  Once we did that, it was time to add the base layer which for today was Lemon Leaf.

Lemon Leaf is perfect for arrangements like ours.  It’s such a vibrant green and sturdy.  Be sure to cut off any leaves that would be in water, and it’ll last for a long time.  The trick I learned from Sharon when starting off with your greens, is to start from the outside then add some to the middle.

Also, as with any plant or flower, let the shape of the stem dicatate the direction of the placement of the plant.  Don’t fight mother nature, your flowers will look a lot better.

Another trick of the pros, use a knife instead of clippers, which squish the steam, closing it off to water intake.  A knife offers a cleaner cut, but being novices, it was best for us to stay away from knives at this time.  Don’t forget to cut at an angle too (exposes more surface area for the plant to get water).

Next, there were ferns to add to the basket, but I skipped these, not a huge fan.  With flower arranging, another tip from a pro, it’s good to work with three different levels, bottom, middle, top.  After the Lemon Leaf and ferns, it was time to add flowers, starting with Stock Flowers, a strange name for a beautiful flower, even if it was more of a filler flower for this basket.  Then on to the daises – a flower that makes me smile.

At this time, I should mention that we were all having a great time, laughing, sipping wine, listening to an Adele station on Pandora.  There was a lot of laughter filling Isabelle’s Beach House!

Learning Something New

After the Stock was added, it was on to adding roses and tulips, the show-stoppers of the arrangement.  These were easy to add and the most fun, but you have to be careful with tulips, the stems are pretty fragile.  As some of you may know, tulips are one of my favorite flowers, and tonight, I learned something new about them.

Tulips are fragile, but interestingly, they continue to grow once they’re cut, about an inch a day.  So, it’s better to start with a short stem with this particular flower.  I wasn’t convinced that this was true, but days later the tulips in my arrangement were towering over the rest of the plants.  I had to cut them down again.

After adding the flowers, we all took a step back and inspected our work.  For some, there was some repositioning and for others there were gaps to fill — that was mine.  So, I added a couple more Stock flowers and Lemon Leaf, and voilá –I made an arrangement I was proud of.

As I looked around the room, it was fun to see how everyone’s arrangement was so different, even though we all had the same materials to use and the same instructions.  Our creations were a reflection of us as individuals.  It was funny to see the more particular people fussing over their arrangement for longer time, and others just happy as it was.

All in all, it was a really fun time.  The creativity and the wine flowed.  We all learned a trick or two about flowers and arranging them, and it was a great way to spend an evening without breaking the bank.  Ellen plans to hold another class at Isabelle’s Beach House in March.  With only 15 spaces, I recommend you sign up quickly if you see it.

Also if you have any questions or would like some beautiful flowers, including fair trade roses, stop by MV Florist (next to Shear Inspiration) in Edgartown.  There are amazing flowers of course, Vineyard Sweets, and more — one stop gift shopping even if it’s for you.  There’s no better way to brighten up a day then fresh flowers.  Well, one of MV Florist’s classes may be a way.

 Thanks for reading On Point. You can learn more about MV Florist and Isabelle’s Beach House on Facebook. Please don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook, follow us on TwitterLinked InPinterest andYouTube.

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